Tuesday 10 November 2015

Step-by-step: Painting a Nurgle Plaguebearer – part 2

Colour nuance 

Flesh is never an even all-over colour, but there can be a temptation to paint it as if it were, and this is especially the case with monsterous flesh tones. In reality the apparent colour of skin can vary a great deal and this is dependant on many factors. For example, compare an area of skin that gets exposure to the sun to one that is covered up. In some areas blood is more visible through the skin giving a redder appearance. Look at your hand, the knuckles and fingertips may appear pink but if you make a fist, the knuckles will look lighter as the skin is drawn more tightly over the bones. You should bear all of this in mind, especially when painting something like a Plaguebearer where 90% of the paint job will be flesh tones. Bringing variation into the flesh tones will add realism and interest. It will also be a lot more fun to paint!

The introduction of a couple of new colours from the palette at this stage will further push the contrasts and bring greater nuance to the overall scheme. Boreal Tree Green and Screamer pink fit into the green/red colour scheme but, as they are cooler than the greens and red already used, they extend the colour range. These ‘new’ colours should be used sparingly both as glazes and to pick out details. 

The mini is now ready for some highlighting and texture work. 


Much of the highlighting has already been created as a result of the base colour showing through the shading, but a little extra work will really make a difference. For the highlights, I mix the Rakarth Flesh base colour with a little of the Sherwood Green. I then gradually add increasing amounts of ivory to this mix as I build up successive highlights. These painted highlights are relatively discreet but they add greatly to the overall contrast and feeling of volume. 

At the same time as adding these highlights it is possible to introduce some painted texture. This will give the impression of the light catching on a textured surface rather than the smooth surface that is actually there. The idea is to create distinct marks during highlighting rather than the ‘usual’ smooth blends. These marks will describe the surface texture. Naturally enough different marks will give the impression of different types of texture. For example, a series of painted strokes can resemble wrinkled or sagging flesh whereas stippling will give a rough appearance. 

In exactly the same way that skin colour can vary so can it’s texture and some areas will be rougher or smoother than others. Texture provides the painter with another type of contrast that can be introduced to a mini, but it is important not to go over the top. Remember that the smooth areas are just as important as the rough ones for the overall effect. 

At this stage the bulk of the skin tones are painted, but don’t be afraid to go back over what you have done to further refine some areas. Glazes of dilute colour (I use both ink and paint) can adjust and enhance the mini’s appearance. They are particularly useful for ‘knocking back’ or introducing a little more colour to the highlights. If the highlights are too harsh, or chalky looking, glazes will tone them down and blend them in. I often slightly over-highlight on purpose and then glaze back down. This can result in a more integrated looking highlight rather than something that looks painted on top of the other colours. 

Refining the textures and details

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that mini painting is all about contrast! Contrasts in colour, shading, texture, shine and saturation are some (among many) of the factors that a painter can manipulate to gain a desired effect. One aspect that often gets overlooked is contrast in the degree of finish. Which is to say that some areas can be given far greater attention and worked on more than others. This is particularly useful when you wish to create a strong focal point. 

The face and stomach areas on the plague bearers are perfect for this sort of treatment. Both feature sculpted detail and are natural focal points. The face is the most obvious area to pay extra attention to. The plague bearers are a little unusual in that they have (in most cases) only one eye and no nose! This can make it difficult to work a clear expression onto the face so it’s worth spending some time on the eye to bring the face to life. Using red tones around the eye and mouth will also help with this and make them look suitably gruesome. 

The stomach area features a combination of sculpted detail that can be enhanced and plain areas where extra texture and detail can be painted on. I decided to paint a combination of sores, peeling skin, cracks and heavy sagging on my miniatures. These extra details can be painted anywhere on the mini and it’s good to have a concentration of them painted on and around a focal point. But try to avoid distributing them evenly over the mini like raisins in a cake. 

Most of this work is painted freehand but you can use a sponge to get it started off. This employs a technique very similar to that used to create paint chipping on armour. Tear off a small piece of sponge and use it to dab a rough speckled texture onto your mini. The trick here is to use a colour that is only slightly darker than the area you are dabbing it onto. Unlike the armour chipping techniqe you want to create a soft low contrast texture. Sponging generates a random texture that can then be further enhanced with highlights and glazes. 

Apply highlights to the lower edges of the sponged areas to create the illusion of rough pitted skin. A more elaborate texture can be generated by adding further highlights, glazes and shadows over the sponging. 

As well as painted texture you can add some ‘special effects’ in the form of slime and drips. I’ve covered this topic here: 
A step-by-step guide to adding slime and drips to a miniature. 
Project Nurgle Part 7 - adding slime to Gutrot Spume.

I decided to paint the Plagurbearer’s swords with true metalics to provide some contrast to the flesh and, in addition to that, I’ve applied a layer of heavy rust and corrosion using baking soda. I’ve covered this topic here: 
Using baking soda to add texture to a mini. 


  1. You make it always look so bloody damn easy... while the truth is far from it..

  2. Very nice work with a mixture of graphic and textured elements.
    And the paintjob is so smooth!

    Good stuff David!